Text messaging can be a tricky affair. It got David Beckham in a lot of trouble with his wife, and if you're on a U.S. carrier, it's likely given you some trouble on your monthly bill. Throw in the difficulty of typing with twelve keys, and conventional messaging loses some of its appeal. That's where Joopz comes in. Joopz is a browser-based SMS service that lets you use your 100+ button PC keyboard to send and receive text messages. Many carriers already offer this functionality from their Web sites or with special, free e-mail addresses, but Joopz takes it one step further with two-way communication and group chat. Joopz comes in two flavors: a free and a premium membership. Premium membership allows unlimited outgoing messages and archiving features.
Replying to a Joopz-sent SMS on your phone will send the message to a conversation window on the sender's side as long as they have Joopz running. Otherwise it will show up the next time they log in. Conversations look similar to an iChat transcript, with neat-looking colored bubbles and time stamps. The Joopz conversation doesn't have the kinetic flow of a normal IM chat, but it's simple to sign up and get started. Conversations are logged, but you can't check the history without being a premium member. In an age when Google caches every chat in Google Talk, it's disappointing to see this archiving feature require a subscription.
In addition to SMS functionality, Joopz also includes basic organizational features. You can set reminders for yourself that arrive via SMS on your phone. You'll also eventually be able create a small database of your contacts, so you can easily message them without digging for numbers on your mobile phone.
There are some serious limitations to this service, mainly the cap of 10 outgoing messages for nonpremium members. The $3 monthly fee for premium membership seems fairly reasonable, but if you include the fees for [incoming] text messages from your phone carrier, the bills can add up pretty quickly, unless you have a generous text messaging plan from your wireless carrier. Also, most new phones include IM clients, which means creating a dummy account for an IM-enabled phone could achieve the same effect as Joopz without the middle man. Where Joopz comes in handy is for all those users who aren't willing to go through that effort and are looking for a simple, browser-based texting solution.
UPDATE: Joopz has told us there are no text messaging charges for the mobile phone user while sending outgoing messages to a Joopz user. Your carrier also won't charge you for sending messages via Joopz. There's more information on the Joopz FAQ.
UPDATE x2 (From MobileSphere): "Any message sent by Joopz and received on a mobile phone will occur a charge by the receiving party whether as a part of a sms/data plan or per unit if the user does not have a plan. Now, if a Joopz subscriber has forwarding activated he/she will be charged for each SMS that is being forwarded to his/her phone. The same goes for reminders."